President Trump’s signature slogan America first has been tweaked recently by administration aides eager to show that his nationalism is not at odds with the United States’ traditional global leadership role. Their new version: “America first does not mean America alone.”
Yet America was undeniably alone as Trump on Saturday departed the annual summit of the so-called Group of 20 leaders here. With the leaders’ final statement, it was evident that Trump’s prioritization of American self-interest — on environmental agreements, trade, migration and more — left him, and thus America, often in unfamiliar isolation.
After two days of cordial smiles, handshakes and back-slapping, Trump expressed satisfaction with the summit. Even so, he was alone among leaders of the world’s major economic powers in dissenting from its resolution affirming the Paris climate accord. And while he has threatened to abandon existing trade deals and penalize countries for what he sees as unfair trade practices, particularly on steel exports, the summit’s closing declaration affirmed support for open markets and fighting protectionism.
After the more exclusive Group of 7 summit in May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had described the meeting as “six against one” — the one being the United States. As she closed the G-20 gathering that she hosted this week, Merkel again singled out the United States.